What is carbon monoxide poisoning?
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning happens once you breathe fumes that contain CO. You'll be able to get terribly sick or maybe die if you breathe high levels of CO for even a number of minutes.
Carbon monoxide may be a toxic gas that has no smell or style. respiratory it in will cause you to unwell, and it will kill if you are exposed to high levels.
Every year there are around sixty deaths from accidental carbon monoxide gas poisoning in European countries and Wales.
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After carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it enters your blood and mixes with Hb (a part of red blood cells that carry gas around your body) to create carboxyhemoglobin.
When this happens, the blood is not any longer ready to carry gas, and this lack of gas causes the body's cells and tissue to fail and die.
Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when carbon monoxide builds up in the bloodstream When too much carbon monoxide is in the air your body replaces oxygen in red blood cells with carbon monoxide This can lead to serious tissue damage or even death
Carbon monoxide is a colorless odorless and tasteless gas that is emitted from fuel-burning appliances such as wood stoves propane heating systems charcoal grills or any other type of fuel The gas accumulates in enclosed spaces where people are sitting still for long periods of time without opening windows or doors
If you think you may have carbon monoxide poisoning get out of the house and get fresh air If symptoms persist seek emergency medical care
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) may be a gas made once hydrocarbon and different fuels burn. it's invisible and colorless. You can’t smell or style it. CO will build up quickly and is dangerous in high levels.
Where does carbon monoxide come from?
Carbon monoxide is in fumes (smoke) from:
Car and truck engines.
Small gasoline engines.
Fuel-burning space heaters (not electric).
Heating systems, including home furnaces.
Burning charcoal, kerosene, propane or wood
Symptoms Carbon monoxide poisoning
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
Nausea or vomiting
Shortness of breath
Loss of consciousness
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be dangerous for people who are sleeping or intoxicated People may have irreversible brain damage or even die before anyone realizes there is a problem
When to see a doctor
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be subtle However the condition is a life-threatening medical emergency If you think you or someone you're with may have carbon monoxide poisoning get into fresh air and seek emergency medical care
Causes Carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by inhaling combustion fumes When too much carbon monoxide is in the air your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide This prevents oxygen from reaching your tissues and organs causing damage to your body's cells
Various fuel-burning appliances and engines produce carbon monoxide The amount of carbon monoxide produced by these sources is not usually cause for concern but if they are used in a closed or partially closed space — cooking with a charcoal grill indoors for example — the carbon monoxide can lead to serious health problems Monoxide kills quickly
Smoke inhalation during a fire also can cause carbon monoxide poisoning
Risk factors Carbon monoxide poisoning
Exposure to carbon monoxide may be particularly dangerous for:
Unborn babies.Fetal red blood cells are more easily poisoned by carbon monoxide than adult red blood cells This makes unborn babies more susceptible to harm from carbon monoxide poisoning
Children.Children breathe more often than adults so they are more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning
Older adults.People who have been exposed to carbon monoxide may be at a higher risk of developing brain damage
People who have chronic heart disease.People with a history of anemia or breathing problems are more likely to get sick from exposure to carbon monoxide
Those who are poisoned by carbon monoxide often become unconsciousWhen a person loses consciousness it indicates more severe exposure
Complications carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide exposure can cause:
Permanent brain damage
Damage to the heart may result in life threatening cardiac complications
Fetal death or miscarriage
Prevention Carbon monoxide poisoning
Simple precautions can help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
Install carbon monoxide detectors. Place one battery in each hallway near your sleeping areas Check the batteries at least twice a year If the smoke alarm sounds leave the house and call 911 or the fire department Carbon monoxide detectors are also available for motorhomes and boats
It is important to open the garage door before starting your carNever leave your car running in your garage Be extra cautious if you have an attached garage Leaving a running car in the garage can be dangerous even with doors open
Use gas appliances as recommended.Do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home Use portable gas camp stoves outdoors only Use fuel-burning space heaters only when someone is awake to monitor them and doors or windows are open to provide fresh air Don’t run a generator in an enclosed space such as the basement or garage
Make sure your fuel-burning appliances and engines are vented properly These include:
Car and truck engines
Make sure your furnace has been inspected for safety by your gas company annually
If you have a fireplace keep it in good repairKeep your fireplace clean and free of soot Every year clean the chimney and flue of your fireplace
Let the chimney and vents remain unlocked during remodelingMake sure that they are not covered by plastic tarps or gravel
Make repairs before returning to the site of an incidentIf carbon monoxide poisoning has occurred in your home it is critical to find and repair the source of the carbon monoxide before you stay there again Your local fire department or utility company may be able to help
- Be careful when working with solvents in a closed areaMethylene chloride a common solvent found in paint and varnish removers can be broken down (metabolized) into carbon monoxide when inhaled Exposure to methylene chloride may cause carbon monoxide poisoningWhen working with solvents at home use them outdoors or in well-ventilated areas Read the instructions carefully and follow the safety precautions on the label
Carbon monoxide poisoning levels
Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when a person breathes in carbon monoxide (CO) and it replaces oxygen in the body's hemoglobin If any of these levels are reached call 911 immediately: An initial COHb level >5% headache or nausea or vomiting within 24 hours; an initial COHb level <5% dizziness confusion disorientation weakness and/or unsteady gait during exposure; 50% decrease in carboxyhemoglobin compared to baseline; symptoms associated with sleepiness.
Carbon monoxide poisoning long term effects
Carbon monoxide is a toxic odorless and colorless gas produced by combustion It has no taste or smell making it impossible for someone to detect without the help of an appliance detector or carbon monoxide alarm If you do not have ventilation in your home or are using space heaters charcoal grills and other fuel-burning devices indoors during cold weather you could face serious carbon monoxide poisoning long term effects.
How long does it take to get carbon monoxide poisoning?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless colorless and toxic gas Breathing it in can cause headaches nausea and drowsiness but high levels can be fatal Children people with cardiovascular problems or respiratory conditions like asthma or emphysema are particularly at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning People who live in homes heated by wood stoves have an especially high risk of getting sick from the fumes produced by these appliances If you think that someone has been poisoned by carbon monoxide remove them from the contaminated environment immediately and seek medical care as soon as possible.
What are two warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning?
The American Red Cross recommends that everyone use a CO detector on every level of your home and check or replace the battery at least once a year If you have an older model detector try to replace it with one that uses digital technology The newer models are more sensitive making them more effective in detecting very low levels of carbon monoxide Two warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea and headaches caused by breathing this colorless odorless gas While there are ways to detect the presence of CO in your home the best way to protect yourself is to install carbon monoxide detectors and develop a family escape plan in case.
What are the signs of carbon monoxide in a home?
Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas meaning it can't be seen or smelled in the air Since it is so hard to detect without the right equipment there are few warning signs of CO poisoning Some common symptoms include: headaches dizziness and nausea Other possible but nearly undetectable signs of CO exposure include a bluish tint to your lips and fingernails If you're concerned about carbon monoxide levels in your home have an HVAC professional conduct tests to determine if it's present in your air supply.
Diagnosis Carbon monoxide poisoning
If you are brought to the emergency room with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning the doctor may immediately begin treatment by testing a sample of your blood for carbon monoxide
Treatment Carbon monoxide poisoning
When you or someone you are with get's dizziness, nausea , shortness of breath, weakness and confusion immediately leave the area and call 911. If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected then:
Once you’re in the hospital treatment may involve:
Breathing pure oxygen.You may breathe pure oxygen when you are in the emergency room Oxygen is delivered to your organs and tissues by a machine that places a mask over your nose and mouth If you can't breathe on your own you will be ventilated
- Spending time in a pressurized oxygen chamberIn many cases hyperbaric oxygen therapy is recommended This therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a chamber in which the air pressure is about two to three times higher than normal This speeds the replacement of carbon monoxide with oxygen in your bloodHyperbaric oxygen therapy may be used in cases of severe carbon monoxide poisoning Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may also be recommended for pregnant women because unborn babies are more vulnerable to injury from carbon monoxide poisoning Coppers are susceptible to damage from carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning treatment at home
Firstly people should keep a working carbon monoxide detector in their home This device will alert the resident to any excess amounts of the gas in the atmosphere and it may even wake them up if they are exposed overnight The second step is to avoid using anything that could produce CO gas Anyone with a fireplace at home needs to have it inspected and cleaned annually by a professional chimney sweep service company Other appliances such as water heaters furnaces and stoves should also be checked regularly for proper functioning especially if they are older models.
Preparing for your appointment
If you or someone you're with develops signs of carbon monoxide poisoning — headache dizziness nausea shortness of breath weakness confusion — get into fresh air immediately and call 911 or emergency medical help
Hospital staff will need critical information as soon as you arrive On the way to the hospital try to prepare answers that deal with:
Some possible sources of carbon monoxide exposure include Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of fossil fuels Carbon dioxide and oxygen are present in all kinds of air When fuel (in the form of gasoline) and air are mixed they produce carbon monoxide gas This gas can be produced by combustion engines propane stoves or heaters kerosene lamps and candles fireplaces barbecues and grills (charcoal) charcoal stoves
Signs or symptoms, and when they started
Any mental impairment including confusion and memory problems
Any loss of consciousness
Other medical conditions that the affected person has been diagnosed with including pregnancy
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is a condition caused by the incomplete combustion of carbon based fuels This may be from faulty heating systems or from your automobile's exhaust venting into the interior of your home Carbon Monoxide poisoning is silent odorless and tasteless which makes it very dangerous for you and your family.This poison can travel easily through walls and move undetected throughout your entire house even reaching areas above ceilings that are sealed shut such as attics and crawl spaces Common symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning include: Headache dizziness weakness nausea vomiting and loss of consciousness (fainting).